Uke Tunes

Uke-ifying my favourite songs

I’m In Love With A German Film Star – The Passions

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germanfilmstar<song sheet>

I remember having this on a C120 cassette tape that I used to recorded my favourite songs from Sunday evening’s Top 40 show.

The Passions are generally perceived as one-hit wonders. Which is true – they only had one hit, and this it. To be fair, it wasn’t even much of a hit, “peaking” at number 25 in the UK singles chart in February 1981. And in so doing they notched up just two Top Of The Pops performance. And yet. And yet… my, what a song!

For a song that was born from a simple three-chord jam, with lyrics scribbled in a matter of minutes, there is something deeply arresting about this three-and-a-half-minute slice of post-punk-pop. Against a spacious, dark, echoing backdrop, full of brooding bass, chiming guitars and a metronomic beat, singer Barbara Gogan’s slightly detatched vocals intone a brief tale of grainy black-and-white obsession (or at least that’s how I always imagine it). And it is a song that has outlived and outperformed that original chart run. A staple of many early-80s compilation, it’s instantly recognisable sound seems to have carved in niche through time, it’s stature seemingly growing with. Witness the plethora of cover versions, from the likes of Foo Fighters, Dubstar, Pet Shop Boys with Sam Taylor-Wood, and even a pumping electopop version from Fiorious.

So another unlikely ukulele song, I hear you say? Well maybe, but a good song is a good song, and this one – to my mind – seems to work just fine. Nothing complicated, just a cyclic set of chords. Take at a gentle pace. Brood. And enjoy!

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